I Can’t Help Myself

Time to resurrect an old series.

Here, I post songs which provoke an involuntary response, where you hear a word or phrase and suddenly find yourself shouting the words to a song which have some vague link to the word or phrase you just heard.

There once was a footballer called Joao Alves de Assis Silva, who played for Manchester City and later (on loan) for Everton. Because his name was a bit of a mouthful for us Brits (and probably because when paying by the letter, even if all the words fitted on there, nobody was ever going to buy a football shirt with that name emblazoned on the back) he was known as Jo.

Consequently, whenever he appeared on Match of the Day and the commentator informed the audience he had the ball by saying “Jo”, I found myself spasming into chorusing: “The street life is my home.”

To my eternal pride, when Hel and I shared a flat, I managed to get her joining in. You see why I mention her so often, right?

I mention this now because my niece recently got engaged to a chap called Joe, who I met for the first time over Christmas when I was staying with my parents. I really liked him, although I hated myself for wanting to scream the words to this song whenever he spoke (I resisted, you’ll be pleased/relieved to hear):

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Inspiral Carpets – Joe

More soon.

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I Can’t Help Myself

More now from the gut reactions that I have to certain sentences, which make me think of specific records.

When I walked back into the ground floor of the building in which my office is housed on Friday, I was confronted by a massive TV set, bearing the words: “Welcome to…” followed by the name of the building.

I’m not going to tell you the name of the building where I work for much the same reason that I’m not going to post my address and bank account details, but I will reveal that it has five syllables in it.

As soon as I saw the words on the screen, this song came into my head, and I realised shortly afterwards that anytime I see the words “Welcome to…” followed by a five syllable name, it happens then too:

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Black Grape – Tramazi Party

Have a great end of January Saturday night folks!

More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

Time for some more gut reactions, songs which spring to mind whenever I hear a word, phrase or a person’s name.

As discussed at way too much length last time out, many of these seem to stem from footballer’s names, and the first one this week is no exception.

Although I can’t really take credit (if that’s the right phrase…) for this one. I believe I heard it mentioned on an old TV show hosted by Frank Skinner and David Baddiel called “Fantasy Football League”.

One of them (Frank, I think) announved that whenever he heard the surname of German midfielder Torsten Frings, he always thought of this song. And since then, I have too:

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Nancy Sinatra & Dean Martin – Things…

They spent a lot of time, money and effort on that sleeve, didn’t they? I mean, they haven’t even bothered to fully crop Lee Hazlewood out of the photo of Nancy. Look:

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Anyway, next up, a record that I actually bought on 7″ single back in 1986, for the sole purpose of putting it on a mix-tape to play in the sixth form common room (chucking a chart record on every now and then was my way of making sure any of the kids less cool than me (sense the ironic tone, by the way) wouldn’t complain that they didn’t know any of the songs being played. See how I suffered for my art?).

As with “Things…”, I may be misappropriating the source, but I have not actually heard the title of this next song since the day that Radio 1 (at the time) DJ Simon Mayo (I think) substituted it for the words “Womens’ Underwear”. I

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Bon Jovi – Womens’ Underwear Livin’ On a Prayer

Which leads us nicely into, if not identical, then very similar territory. Last time out, I opened up the floor to any suggestions which you might have, and Charity Chic (of Charity Chic Music fame) proffered this:

“My surname is Boyd and my brother and I have been known to sing “The Boyds are Back in Town” on occasions (usually when alcohol has been consumed).”

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Thin Lizzy – The Boyds Boys Are Back In Town

I’ve got one of those too. In fact, I have two of them. These aren’t sung by my family and I, but at least once a year (on my birthday) this will spring to mind for one particular line contains a word which bears more than a passing resemblance to my surname (in fact, I’ve lost count of how many times people have thought it is my actual surname):

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The Beautiful South – Let Love Speak Up Itself

Now, I’m not about to reveal my surname here, I’d like to retain some degree of anonymity (although any of you that don’t know me personally but do follow me on Twitter will already know it), but this should give you a bit more of a clue:

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Fred Wedlock – Oldest Swinger in Town

Feel free to send any suggestions you might have (for songs to feature in this series, not for what my surname is) via the Comments section below.

More soon.

I Can’t Help Myself

A few weeks ago, somebody on Twitter asked for suggestions for songs which you instinctively sing when you hear someone’s name.

Annoyingly, I can’t remember who it was, or what, if any, hashtag they used, for there were some great examples I could point you in the direction of. Or just shamelessly pass off as my own.

So I’ll try to explain.

We’re not interested in songs by the person (if they happen to be a singer), nor songs which mention the person (so, for example, were you to burst into the lyrics of Madness’ “Michael Caine” when you hear Michael Caine’s name, that would not count. No, in those circumstances, every one knows that you are obliged to say “You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!”)

Perhaps the best example at the moment is the tendency for people who voted for Jeremy Corbyn to sing his name to the tune of The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army”. But even that’s not quite right; his name just happens to scan, as would anyone whose name happens to have five syllables. Try singing “The Chuckle Brothers” instead of Jeremy Corbyn, and you’ll see what I mean.

No, the song in question needs to have a phrase within it, preferably at the chorus, which sounds like or rhymes with the person in question’s name. And whenever you get to that part of the song, you find yourself, like Pavlov’s dog salivating, unable to stop yourself from singing, but with the lyrics changed to feature that person’s name.

When I saw the aforementioned Tweet, I thought “I do that a lot”, went to reply, and then realised I couldn’t think of a single one.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I went – and I may have mentioned this in passing – to the Spurs v Real Madrid game. At half time, former Spurs and Real player Rafael Van der Vaart was interviewed on the pitch, and suddenly I remembered one.

Anybody I lived with or watched football with during the years he played for Spurs (2010 – 2012) will confirm that whenever his name was mentioned, I would not be able to resist singing his surname to the chorus of this song:

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Tenpole Tudor – Wünderbar

Does this make a bit more sense now?

Okay, good.

Because watching the Champions League match between Borussia Dortmund and Spurs on Tuesday, I remembered another one, and found a new one too.

Football players names, it seems, are ripe for this, which leads me to a further distinction: we’re not talking about established, recognised football songs or chants.

So, when I saw the Dortmund team sheet on Tuesday (I wasn’t there), two names jumped out at me. Firstly, they have a young centre-back called Dan-Axel Zagadou.

Don’t worry, we’re not heading into Black Lace territory.

Instead, to here, and to a song which came into my head whenever he got the ball:

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Olivia Newton-John & Electric Light Orchestra – Xanadu

Except, of course, when their striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had the ball, when it was over-taken by this:

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Ram Jam – Black Betty

There’ll be more of these as and when they occur to me. Suggestions welcome.

(More soon).